11/13/12 (Tuesday).

I’m blowing leaves down the driveway when I notice Henry raking the leaves on his lawn. 

I think that’s his name, Henry.  We’ve exchanged maybe ten words since he moved in.  

Four years ago. 

So I’m surprised to find myself thinking of offering him my leaf blower.

Surprised, then annoyed.  Since the impulse makes me uncomfortable. 

I’m shy.  I don’t do shit like that.

“Why even consider it?” I ask myself. 

But I know why.  It’s what Chris said to me the other night on the way to a family gathering.  She knows  family gatherings make me nervous.  

“Get your Buddha on,” she told me.

I knew what she meant.  Stop being scared of people.  Stop avoiding them.  Stop taking them personally.  Detach.  Relax.  Breathe.  Practice what you preach. 

“Shut up,” I answered.

But now I sigh and switch off the blower and coil the endless orange cord around my forearm and walk it over to Henry, who is plainly startled to see me but covers it nicely.

We chat.  While I’m talking with him I’m talking to myself. 

“Practice,” I say. “This is practice.” 

And, “You don’t practice enough.” 

And, “You don’t practice what you preach.”

And, “But maybe you’ll start.  Maybe this is you turning over a new leaf.” 

Eventually Henry declines my offer, which is a relief (since now I don’t have to come back to collect the damned blower), and I walk home feeling both virtuous and silly. 

There was nothing to be scared of here, and I knew that going in, and  was scared anyway. 

I’m sixty-two now.  Scared for sixty-two years. 

“Will I die this way?” I wonder.

Then a last thought comes as I walk back up my clean driveway and into my house.

“How to handle feelings isn’t just a human problem,” I think. 

It’s the human problem.  And all the others come from that.”

* * *




13 responses to “Leaf

  • NextInLine

    I’m fifty and terrified of seemingly simple human interaction. Phone calls. Returning things. Asking for directions. Thanks for letting me know I am not alone. And for opening up. And for this amazing blog. BTW whatever happened to the mugs?

    • Steve Hauptman

      You’re welcome. Thanks for thanking me. 🙂

      Yeah, I’m sorry about the damn mugs, I gave up on them after weeks of trying and failing to find a mug company who’d produce them for what I considered a reasonable price. But if you really want one, tell me. I’ll try again.

      • jpbauer

        Hello Steve
        I have some clients in the promotion business. If you provide me with your permission, I would be happy to make an enquiry and get back to you with a price ( in Canadian Dollars. ) I really want a mug also. Best regards, John

  • releasing lunacy

    We fear interaction & despise socializing. But, will practice really ever make it any “better?” What is better? Is it being able to interact with people without feeling fear or dread? of enjoying the interaction? or just merely making ourselves interact?

    When I get it into my head I don’t want to be around people, I really do not want to be around people. Forcing the issue causes headaches, stomachaches, muscle tension, dizziness, panic & extreme grumpiness. And, rarely do I walk away from a social exchange feeling good.

    How is it handling feelings to force ourselves to suffer/practice? Why is being social right and being a loner wrong? Should extroverts force themselves to spend time alone even if it makes them anxious and depressed, so they can work on handling their feelings?

    I dunno. I don’t particularly like people and I definitely don’t like feelings. I do kinda like the idea of torturing the extroverts by making them spend time alone… *wonders if we can poke them with sticks too*


    • Steve Hauptman

      (Bert replies:)
      Yeah, I feel much the same way. Often I find myself “not liking” people. Except for me that usually means being scared of them. And I’m sick and tired of being scared. So I practice.

  • jpbauer

    I like Chris’s suggestion to you to put your Buddha on. I will have to share this with my wife so she can try It out on me. Excellent post as usual!

  • Clare Flourish

    I think it is more a choice. We can either live in huge civilisations of millions of people, or we can cope with our feelings. Both is very difficult.

  • jpbauer

    I find meditation an excellent practice for helping me in my attempts at staying grounded and keeping my feelings and emotions in check. I really and truly don’t know what I would do without my meditation practice.

  • mentalhealthtalk

    I don’t find feelings to be a problem. I went a lot of years without feeling at all because I was terrified of how immense it all felt. Now that I practice being more grounded and love and compassion for myself and others, I welcome the feelings because it is a sign that I am living my life. Yes, they can be really overwhelming at times. I relax into them and breathe. Yes, they sometimes stop me from doing what I want. That’s okay. That’s life. I keep practicing and when another chance comes along, I try again. I think it is a life practice but I have the passion to keep at it because I am so grateful to be here and to be living my life with less and less dissociation and escapism from my humanity… feelings included.

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